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Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

KEITH'S EAST 105TH ST. THEATER

KEITH'S EAST 105TH ST. THEATER

KEITH'S EAST 105TH ST. THEATER, which opened in Nov. 1921 as a vaudeville house, was built near UNIV. CIRCLE to cater to the growing number of "suburban" residents who wanted entertainment closer to home. At a time when Cleveland's restaurants and theaters were located at PLAYHOUSE SQUARE, the Keith chain opened the E. 105th St. Theater. Although the location drew the desired crowds for 2 matinees and an evening performance on weekends, the actors felt secluded in a "theatrical outpost." Eventually, the Keith's 105th was joined by other theaters and popular Cleveland restaurants, making what was once called DOAN'S CORNERS the city's second major retail and entertainment district. To attract the public and to compensate the actors for their isolation, Keith's 105th was a showplace, with an ivory, rose, and gilt lobby and 3,000 rose-velvet seats. The public lounges featured ivory toiletry accessories, while the dressing rooms, all identical and named after states rather than numbered (thus minimizing ego battles among the stars), had long ivory dressing tables, well-lit mirrors, and connected tile showers. Keith's had a laundry room, billiard parlor, and nursery. The theater hosted the vaudeville greats and launched the careers of others, such as Bob Hope. With the decline of vaudeville, Keith's was converted to a movie theater. As the neighborhood changed, the quality of films and attendance deteriorated. Keith's continued to operate as a movie house until 1967, when it and several other buildings in the area were claimed for urban renewal.